Updates for Wednesday, January 14th [2004]

Expedition to the Pacific

1/14/2004

DEAR SIRS & MADAMS,

After I arrived to this strange new world it was amongst my personal and best vested interests to analyze the geography of America and the history of this region, and to find out more about this place, Oregon. I knew in my time of the river Oregon, supposedly past the Mississippi, and hopeful connector to the Pacific Ocean. We knew of these things sending Captain Merryweather Lewis into the west. I knew, however, that I would never be able to make such a voyage myself, but enjoyed living my years in the grand idea that the west would be colonized, and indeed it has, maybe not quite in the way I first imagined, but I suppose that is the case history always makes, things not always being as they were to be, being only as they are.

It wasn't until just recently it was brought to my attention just how truly close we were to the Pacific, when Daniel asked if I wanted to accompany him to visit Seaside with some friends of his. Aparently his friend Mr. James Roosevelt the Fourth is joining two of his companions, Michael Michaud and Lenny Ledyard on a voyage to the sea for more of their protesting activities, and indeed, they requested the presence of Daniel. Michael and Lenny are animal activists that James had met during a candelight vigil for "Cake-o" the whale, a whale I was told that was in moving picture films. That did not make any sense to me being a man not of the times, but indeed, I had lived my life wondering what the great Pacific was like, and never having been there to see it myself, I could not pass up this opportunity.

The reason for our trip was made quite obvious as we ventured on the automobile ride Westbound. It is a great plight for animals and God's creatures today, for some believe that they should not be in captivity, or in domestication. Aparently it is greatly ruinous and not the desideratum for the people that they be removed from the seas because the "eco system" might be damaged or disrupted. Always enquiring, I asked the group,

Me: So, what is it, if a whale or a "sea lion" were to be captured? Is it not the mammoths we study or the llamas, those native creatures of these lands, and do they not care what or why our science enquires?

Michael: Mammoths? What the hell are you talking about? I'm just in it for the weed.

James: Hey Daniel, I thought you said Tommy Boy here was interested in the protest.

Daniel: Well, he just more or less came for the fun stuff. Just ignore him man, he's an immigrant.

James: But I thought you said he was French?

Me: Daniel, I am merely uncertain to the cause we are going to support. Please forgive me for asking, but why would you go along?

Daniel: C'mon Tom, you gotta be behind something.

Lenny: We'll be fine. My dad gave me some cash, and I got some walking money for Seaside. We'll be cool. We can have some fun, make a difference, smoke some 'dro, and then hang out in a hotel room, man.

Daniel: Yeah "Tommy Boy", just relax.

Me: If you say so.

So it was that the five of us ventured forth into the city called Seaside. As we pulled along the shore and I could see the great span of the Ocean, for the first time in my life, I could see it's span into the horizon. We pulled up Broadway Street, and at the end, I saw a circular pass that was called the "Turnaround". It was shortly before this that we turned to park behind some man's Candy store, when it was that I was accosted by the very walls of the building, shaking and trembling a boisterous remark, "Because the Candy Man can!". I was scared and began to flee, when stopped by Daniel who saw my obvious worry.

It was 2PM, and we were early to meet some of the other protestors, so we decided to go ahead and go to play games at the behest of Lenny, who offered to pay for it all. We left the posters and materials inside the car. So it was that we ventured the Seaside. I played in the "Bumper Cars", but did not quite understand the point, and not before getting my bearings three small children in their electric carriages came one way for me, slamming into my carriage and jolting me about. I was unaware, and leaped from the carriage running from the stage, tripping over another car as the ride operator stopped the machines to save me. For some reason he was displeased with my performance playing in the bumping cars, and ordered my dejection from the amusement. How such a violent sport is considered fun, I have no knowledge. Lenny bought us all ice cream, and we enjoyed thoroughly, as it is one of my favorite dessert foods. It was during this time we passed by the Aquarium, the object of dissent amongst us. Lenny, me and Daniel all went indoors all at my behest, as a scientist I insisted, I could not pass without looking inside especially if I was to protest this place... but it was much to the disgrace of James and Michael, who insisted it wasn't worth seeing such "brutality". They insisted instead on going to purchase marijuana, I advised that they go to the local farmer's wholesaler, to try to get some from the manufacturer instead of at retail. I don't think they understood me, however.

So it was that we went indoors, and I saw all the animals of the sea on display as never before, some beautiful, some terrible (I remark here the Moray Eel left me with a rather disturbing vision), and others I simply saw for the first time (again I remark my awe at the rather amazing Twenty Ray Star Fish). We passed the tank of the sea turtles, antient creatures foretold by their agen looks. Octopus, perhaps, was the most fascinating of them all. I had heard of them from many sailors and merchants, but never saw one living or dead. What a great place of education, I insisted, but Daniel ignored me, needlessly upset about the very same exhibits. And then we passed the object of today's outspoken protest... the lions of the sea, nearby the seals, to which women and children fed fish to. Such huge animals, I had never seen them before.

Lenny: Terrible, isn't it? Look at those families feed those poor, poor, enslaved creatures. Throwing fish at them like dogs.

Me: Wait, we'd rather not feed them? I'm still not quite understanding, for if we take these creatures in, is it not something of our earthly duty to care for them?

Daniel: Tommy Boy, you can't capture a living THING.

Lenny: Yeah man, we should set these creatures back into their natural environment, that's where they want to be you know.

Me: How could it be that they want to be there, in the wild with the beasts that might consume them and the dangers of the sea might ravage them? This animal here, that the poor boy is throwing a fish to, look at it...

Daniel:

Me: Yes, see you anything of the foretold suffering in it's eyes? I cannot look at these beasts with the honesty in my heart and consider them captured, but instead, they are fed, kept away from those that might hurt them, loving the company of man like any trustworthy animal.

Lenny: Those poor animals live shorter lives, they're split from their families, they are enclosed and can't get enough exercise, and these sick conditions result in abnormal life spans, odd behavior, injuries, they live in perpetually noisy environments, laughed and gawked at by us humans. There is NO WAY they can enjoy being taken care of by us. We can never know their true plight.

Me: So what of the dog then? Does the dog not enjoy his master, and if the dog doesn't, why does he return to the master when let free?

Daniel: It's not the same, these are fish.

Me: But that beast, the Sea Lion, is surely not a fish.

Daniel: Whatever, same thing.

Lenny: Listen Tommy Boy, I didn't spend my years in college helping out with the and the PETA to stand by and see animals suffer.

Me: Never in my years did I consider warm shelter and plentyness of food to be "suffering". Daniel, I am unsure if I can support your cause.

Daniel: You don't have to attend the protest if you don't wanna, damn. Go out and wander seaside, there's plenty to do. Here, I have $10, go explore like you like to, just meet us back at the car by 8pm. Lenny's going to pay for our hotel room, so we can stay overnight.

So it was we decided to leave, Daniel and Lenny went to find James and Michael, while I did indeed wander astray. I walked around, trying to find a reprieve, and indeed, I found a great view of the ocean from the "Turnaround". Then, it struck me to my amazement, when I read a stone monument there, which said that this very place was the place where Merryweather turned around on the expedition, the very one I sent him on so many years ago! This was the same coast that my expedition first explored for America! I knew it would be in this locale, but never did I suspect to see it alive in front of me, ever. It seemed appropriate to me, to venture to this place, knowing that when the West was reached, my good friend turned around, with his companion William & they surely had the future in sight, whether they really knew of it or not. Now that I am here, on my amazing adventure through time, what is in store for my future?

Down the street, however, the protest began. I turned around and watched from afar. It was larger than I thought, it swelled to some 30 people, and drew the attention of several police officers, since it appeared to be blocking part of the street and making quite a noise. It was a man next to Lenny who threw a bottle at a cop, but I don't think the police saw who it was, as clearly I saw Lenny get beaten, sprayed in the face with what appears to be some kind of liquid poison, and dragged away. Shortly afterwards, the crowd dispersed, not being enough to approach the now numerous police men. I preferred to stay from a distance, and go to the car to meet with whoever might make it out of the incident there. So, I did wait, for roughly an hour, when Daniel, James and Michael finally returned. It appears that Lenny is in jail for the mispercieved offense, although his mother & father were assuredly coming to get him free with bail money. Knowing this, we resolved to stay with the evening's plans, only instead of the hotel room Lenny would pay for, we decided to camp outside, despite the coldness of the weather recently, since we needed to stay in the area & the only way to stay within Seaside according to James, we all knowing no friends and having no money, would be to camp on a secluded area of the beach. The only other option we had would be to return home, which Daniel seemed to reluctantly favor, although he did not speak up to say as such. We had driven here in James' car, and it was to my surprise that James had several sleeping bags and a tent in his trunk, as aparently he made it his habit to camp freely as he pleased, he proclaimed this habit made it easier to relate to the "homeless wage slaves".

We waited for nightfall and snuck our supplies out onto the beach. It was cold and certainly seemed uncustomary but James and Michael both seem rather excited about it. It was not more than an hour on the beach until the three began rolling the marijuana plant into papers and using it for smoking. I declined the offer as I do not care for the smoke, and suggested perhaps that the plant be best smoked through a chicken bone, as I had seen people on my plantation do of it. They look rather confused.

It was on into the evening when Michael went out to go purchase some more of the substance, it amazed me how particular the group thought it was to smoke such a thing, when I would imagine indeed that smoking tobacco would be considered so much more eventful, for is it not of a fevered drought that brings one to smoke the leaves of something common, as the maple tree is itself, and indeed wasteful of hemp to smoke the unprocessed leaves of marijuana? I simply did not understand the signficance of such a thing. I suppose it has more to do with the scarcity of the leaf, than any other factor.

After 2 hours, it turned out Michael would not be coming back. James got a call on his "sell-fone", from Michael, aparently an "undercover" police officer had arrested him when he attempted to buy the marijuana leafs from them. I knew such trade was illegal, but never thought it was so vigorously enforced.

Me: So if the sale or trade of it was indeed made illegal, why did you all come out here with the intent of smoking it?

James: What difference does that make to you?

Me: While I disagree with the prohibitations on it's trade, preventing it is a minor offense in the span of those oppressions which also prevail, maybe more of a real offense to sailors and clothiers, as they stand to gain more from the stock of the hemp than you who might smoke it. Regardless, we should have gone home instead of set up camp, or just not made this trip.

James: I don't know what part of France you come from, but you're proof that radiation from nuclear power does strange shit to you. Don't give us any lectures on what to do. If you don't like it, YOU should've stayed home.

Me: What do you think Daniel?

Daniel: Leave me out of it. James, c'mon man, just lay off, you know him, he's just an immigrant. He's right though, we should ditch Seaside and go home. It's too fucking cold outside. Lenny's parents are coming in and we can call Michael's girlfriend. There's no reason to stay.

James: Fine! Next time, don't forget to ditch your fascist buddy here.

The drive home was long and I got there late. It was not until this next morning that I finished writing this. I must head off to work, and surely, it will be a relief from the way I spent yesterday. I must take care, and be sure to visit Natalie soon, to see how she is.

Your most obedt. humble servt.,

- TH. Jefferson

Editor's Notes:

This TeeJ entry is my long-winded dedication to the Lewis and Clark expedition which helped American settlers learn to colonize the great American west. The two guest characters, Lenny Ledyard and Michael Michaud are throwbacks to John Ledyard and André Michaux, two failed attempts on the part of Jefferson to fund an expedition west that failed before the Lewis and Clark voyage. Some original spelling errors from TeeJ (Michaud/Michaux and Merryweather/Meriwether) to be noted, adding to some authenticity.

Basically, the story of Ledyard and Michaux were both stories of failure, so I had the characters Lenny and Michael meet unexpected ends before the end of this journal entry. Ledyard was an American explorer who Jefferson wanted to send East through Russia to the West coast, but he was arrested in Russia suspected of being a French spy, and deported to Poland. Michaux, quite ironically, was in fact a real French spy and was caught gathering intelligence in the West to help raise dissent to the Spanish there. Go figure.

The mammoth and llama reference at the first dialogue is actually referring to animals Jefferson believed lived in the American west, which he gave instructions to Lewis & Clark to return samples of.

The landmarks in Seaside, Oregon are all within walking distance of the Turnaround. According to my roommate Xavier, the Candy man's store playing the repeating Candy Man Can music is a real nuisance. You can visit their webpage at http://www.seasidecandyman.com/

Socialists protest the most inane things. In Oregon, there has been the drama surrounding Keiko, the whale which was in the film "Free Willy". So it's no wonder that there are a lot of animal activists around here who demand freedom for captive animals. Domesticating an animal then letting it into the wild is like abandoning a child. Without education, it won't survive in the wild. Why do I feel this is the stance Jefferson would take?

It was Jefferson's stance on slavery. Jefferson felt the slaves, being uneducated and living their whole life in bondage, would be better off where someone could take care of them. He said that abandoning them would be like abandoning a child, hinting that the solution for slavery was legalizing slave education and creating a recognized citizenship for the slave. Both were things that would not happen in Jefferson's time.

Keiko, once released to the wild, died from pnuemonia in the cold sea. During the last year or two after he was released, he spent more time swimming the sea for human companionship than he did adapting to his surroundings. The things that Keiko knew were gone, now replaced with the harsh, cold sea. People would come by to feed and play with him, and this, as far as those who watched Keiko in his final years could tell, was what Keiko wanted the most. The point I'm making here is that something far more cruel than captivity is abandonment after domestication, something totally ignored by animal rights activists that can't stretch to think how an animal might be worse off after growing to love and appreciate the company of the humans around it (anyone who has owned a dog or a cat might understand the point a little better). I do see it as one of those inane self-righteous causes that Socialist protesters would take up, and that activity kind of matched the setting of TeeJ taking his trip to the Pacific coast.

As for the Marijuana dialogue, I didn't particularly have that in mind when I started this post, after all, I don't like pot smoking and I'm sure Jefferson really didn't care for it either (hence why he turns down the offer). But when you're putting your main character in with a bunch of sophmoric college kids, you can only imagine someone is going to be talking about marijuana. In Jefferson's time, growing hemp was not only legal, but it was encouraged and occassionally subsidized by the state. Hemp was valuable for rope and clothing, and a major industrial fiber, moreso than being grown for recreational smoking. Of course, hemp cannabis has a lower THC count, making it far less smokeable, but even still there was plenty of recreational marijuana smoking in his day. Jefferson had a full plantation of the stuff so he would've most likely known about these practices, moreso industrial uses, and definitely stood against prohibitions on it's trade for any reason.

The history of Marijuana use is definitely something made obscure by the lifestyles of kids today who use it recreationally, who rarely take the subject seriously, and adults who abuse it's addiction. While I'm going to touch more on drug prohibition later, I did want to take a moment to trivialize the importance of drug prohibition. While black market drug trade increases crime incredibly, by and large the market and social liberties are stifled by much larger issues (income tax, the regulatory "alphabet soup", dwindling state rights...). This is why I had TeeJ advise the group to abide by the drug laws instead of break them, in spite of him clearly saying he disagreed with the laws in the first place.

Also look for TeeJ's point about who is more greatly offended by the loss of Marijuana - hemp cannabis makes greater pulp for paper than wood, sturdy rope and fabric for clothing. This, as an industry, is a greater loss for Americans than the recreational use of marijuana, those who smoke can always find more intoxicants (like alcohol) and habitual addictions (like tobacco) everywhere to replace marijuana, but manufacturers, on the other hand, cannot find many other substances like it.

So, a semi-historical narrative, unwanted marijuana diatribe, dark inflective foreshadowing and some details about Seaside, OR. Can't get much more roundabout than that.


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